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Financial Times 13845 Phssthpok

Posted by scchua on November 8th, 2011


I found today’s difficult (as any Guardian or Indy cryptic).  Starting was easy enough with the NW quarter quickly filled in, but the other 3 put up quite a struggle.  For some time, I thought that I wasn’t going to have a complete blog.  Or perhaps it’s just me, and it’s time for a break?  :-)  Thanks Phssthpok, for an enjoyable workout with a puzzle that had several uniquely/uncommonly tricky clues.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  There’s a hidden connection in one of the picture series.


1 Some papers cover shareholder’s meeting to unearth muck (8)

QUAGMIRE :  QUIRE(some papers) containing(cover) AGM(Annual G­eneral M­eeting for shareholders of a company)

5 Turn to block some water? (6)

SPIGOT :  GO(turn, as in what players in a game take) contained in(block) SPIT(some water,saliva)

Answer:  What one turns to stop,block the flow of liquid,eg. water.  A nice &lit.

9 It really discriminates against a trial involving detectives (4,4)

ACID TESTA TEST(a trial) containing CID(detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department, Scotland Yard)

Answer:  A rigorous and conclusive test,really discriminates to establish worth or value, derived from the old method of testing gold with concentrated nitric acid

10 Desert island loses border to east after short time (6)

MOJAVE :  JAVE{“Java”,Indonesian island with “a”,last letter,border replaced by(loses…to) “e”,east} placed after (after) MO(short for moment,short period of time)

Answer:  The desert in south-west USA.


12 Conscious of needing a wash (5)

AWAKEA WAKE(the wash, turbulence in a fluid at the back of a body moving through that fluid, most commonly at the stern of a boat in water)

13 Cheats double-crossing king (3-6)

TWO-TIMERS :  TWO TIMES(twice,double) containing(crossing) R(­Rex,Latin for king)

Defn:  Noun for two-timers and double-crossers (the latter being misdirectingly close to the wordplay)

14 Samples from anorak I monopolise to manufacture robe (6)

KIMONOHidden in(samples from) anoraK I MONOpolise

Answer:  Japanese robe,garment

16 Taste meal – have contents been swallowed? (7)

FLAVOUR :  AV(inner letters,contents of “have”) contained in(been swallowed) FLOUR(meal,ground grain)

19 Vet for lizard (7)

MONITOR :  Double defn.  1st: Verb, to watch,keep track of; and 2nd: a type of large lizard

21 Most shoes are listed (6)

HEELED :  Double defn:  1st: Adjective descriptive of most shoes; and 2nd: Listed,leaning to one side

23 Weapons crisis at motorway interchange (9)

SCIMITARSAnagram of(interchange) CRISIS AT M(­motorway).  Nice surface with “motorway interchange”.

25 Caught light fixture in bracket (5)

CLAMP :  C(caught as in cricket nomenclature) LAMP(light fixture)

26 Who was suitable to announce walk (4,2)

HOOF ITHomophone of(to announce) “who fit”,who was suitable

Answer:  Slang for “to walk” as in “let’s hoof it to the club”

27 Scold overwrought pointless article (8)

HARRIDAN :  HARRID{“harried”,overwrought,harassed minus(less) “e”,east,compass point} AN(the indefinite article)

Defn:  Noun for a person, usually a woman, who constantly finds fault.   Interestingly, in early common law, a common scold was a habitually rude and brawling woman whose conduct was subject to punishment as a public nuisance!

28 One pumps covering at night (6)

TESTER :  Double defn:  1st: One who pumps,asks questions of you; and 2nd: The canopy,covering above eg. a four poster bed.  Why did these disappear?


29 Daughter made unfinished nude sculpture’s appendage (8)

ADDENDUMAnagram of(sculpture’s) [MADE + NUD{“nudeminus last letter(unfinished)}]


1 Throw a square cut at source of radiation (6)

QUASARAnagram of(throw) A SQUAR{“squareminus last letter(cut)}

Answer:  One of the objects believed to be the most distant (and hence oldest) and most luminous in the universe, compact sources of immense energy,radiation in the form of light, infrared, etc.  Short for “quasi-stellar radio source”.

2 I am enthralled by a country’s cartoon (9)

ANIMATION :  I’M(I am) contained in(enthralled by) A NATION(country)

Defn:  Drawn pictures which put together seem as if the characters are animated.  Also stands for non-animated pictures. 


3 Dull time when both sides have winning position (5)

MATTE :  T(time) contained in(when both sides,top and bottom for a down answer, have) MATE(winning position in chess)

Answer:  We have seen “mat”, “matt” in previous puzzles, today it’s “matte”

4 Tortoise almost smashed dish (7)

RISOTTOAnagram of(smashed) TORTOIS{“tortoiseminus last letter(almost)}

6 Ape eats cow next (9)

PROXIMATE :  PRIMATE(ape) containing(eats) OX(cow)

7 Good to flatten pasture (5)

GRAZE :  G(good) plus(to) RAZE(flatten to the ground,destroy)

Answer:  Verb, to pasture

8 Fortune teller first gives comfort with limited success (8)

TREASURE :  T(first letter of “teller”) REASURE{“reassure”,comfort minus(with limited) “s”(success)}.  Nice misdirection with “fortune teller”.

11 One could be stuck up or sticky after removal of additives (4)

TOFF :  “toffee”,one could be sticky, minus(after removal of) 2 “e”s(abbrev. for extras,additives, or Vitamin E,as an additive, or Ecstasy,drug as an additive? – I think it’s the first one)

Answer:  One who is or is a wannabe of the upper class, and therefore could be stuck up, looking down on others.  My last one in – the short ones are sometimes the most elusive.

15 Insecure due to missing first of January, perhaps I visited holiday resort (2,4,3)

ON THIN ICE :  ONTH{“month”,of which January is an example,perhaps, minus(missing) first letter “m”} I plus(visited) NICE(holiday resort town in the French Riviera)

17 Hook was honed and moulded with energy (3-6)

ONE-HANDEDAnagram of(moulded) [HONED AND + E(energy)]

Answer:  Descriptive of Captain Hook, Peter Pan’s arch-enemy.  One of my favourites today.

18 Two strikes number one (5,3)

SMASH HIT :  SMASH(one strike) HIT(and another strike)

Answer:  Number one in the popularity charts

20 Route travelled by sea was up for discussion (4)

ROADHomophone of(for discussion) “rode”,was up on a horse

Answer:  I’m not sure of the explanation here.  “Roads” (in the plural) are partly sheltered areas near shore, where ships can anchor, whereas “road” is a route travelled, but not necessarily by the sea.  Any ideas anyone?

21 Save sailor outside port (7)

HUSBAND :  HAND(sailor,one of the crew) containing(outside) USB(Uniform Serial Bus,strictly speaking the interface standard for connecting peripheral devices, eg. mouse, printer, to a computer, but commonly associated with the port into which the device cable is plugged.  Refreshingly uncommon equivalents for “sailor” and “port”

Answer:  Verb, to economise,manage and minimise cost.  Another favourite.

22 Handle compiler’s rejection the wrong way (6)

EPONYMReversal of(the wrong way) of MY NOPE(my,this crossword compiler’s rejection,no,nope,no can do)

Defn:  Noun for a name, in slang.  Answer:  A name derived from the name of a real or mythical person, eg. Constantinople from Roman Emperor Constantine.  Another favourite.

24 Smooths cuffs (5)

IRONS :  Double defn:  2nd: Manacles,shackles, ancestor of the modern handcuffs used by the police and S&M practitioners

25 Some radiation treatment carries electric current (5)

CURIE :  CURE(treatment) containing(carries) I(symbol for electric current in physics, and I=V/R)

Answer:  The unit of measure of radioactivity, producing some radiation, named in honour of Marie and Pierre Curie, Nobel Laureates, codiscoverers of radium, amongst other scientific achievements.


12 Responses to “Financial Times 13845 Phssthpok”

  1. susan finnel says:

    re tester in 28 across, I think the word is used for small bottles containing perfume that we gals get sprayed with if we’re not wary when entering department stores. They have pumps.
    Thanks for monitor and the explanation of why awake is a wash.

  2. mike04 says:

    No, it’s not just you, scchua. Please don’t have a break!
    You did marvellously well blogging this one today. Many thanks.
    I found the east side very difficult.

    20ac: I think this may refer to a SEA ROAD.
    Chambers gives “a designated route followed by ships, a sea lane”.

    8dn: In my dictionaries I can only find “s” as an abbreviation for SUCCEEDED. Can it also be used for SUCCESS? I’m still not sure how to parse this clue.
    I read “gives comfort” as REASSURES. Then two of the three esses would
    have to be removed.

  3. Wanderer says:

    Yes, congratulations scchua, this was difficult indeed, and I was a Did Not Finish.

    20d I read as Route = definition, and travelled by sea = ROWED, for which we need to find a homophone. But I’m not convinced!

    Thanks to you and Phssthpok.

  4. Eileen says:

    Well done, scchua!

    I came to this late and have just run out of time, given up and come here, so thanks for the blog.

    Re 11dn: a fourth [!] suggestion: I think the additives are E numbers – “number codes for food additives that have been assessed for use within the European Union (the “E” prefix stands for “Europe”)” [Wikipedia]. They’re listed on all food products here and are commonly referred to as ‘Es’.

    I read 20dn as Wanderer did.

  5. Thomas99 says:

    I think your parsing of 20d is perfect. I had route for road and “rowed” as the homophone but that leaves an ugly indicator (“was up for discussion”). I’m sure you’re right, and I like those eccentric old maritime usages – “road”, “roadstead” etc, all referring to stretches of water, of all things! I must say I found the SW corner pretty tough – I wonder if he deliberately concentrated some difficult in one area?

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi again scchua – and Thomas99

    You’re right, of course. I didn’t read the blog carefully enough and missed ‘was up’. Apologies.

  7. scchua says:

    Thanks for all your comments.

    Hi susan finnel, you’re probably right – I’ve seen those bottles arranged on the counters, though I’ve missed out on those well-turned out promoters spraying any sort of substance in my direction. It’s just that my male brain never thought of them.

    Hi mike04, I suspected something like that for sea road, but couldn’t find it in the online dictionaries, so thanks.

    Hi Wanderer, Eileen, Thomas99 – together with mike04, we don’t seem to have a clear majority on 20D. I might add that “travelled by sea” = “rowed” is such an archaic (not since the times of galleys, biremes and triremes) reference, though it might be in keeping with the other uncommon equivalents in the puzzle.

    And Eileen you’re probably right about the Eurocentric reference for additives, which gives me an excuse for not knowing about it!

    And mike04, I am taking a break, during the course of which I’ll be at Derby, so hope to see you, if you’re going, and the rest.

  8. scchua says:

    Sorry we crossed Eileen. So looks like the scales are tipping on 20D.

  9. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks scchua for your blog. Regarding the pictures at 2d: at least two of them are (were) cartoonists. The first picture is Al Capp of Lil Abner fame and the last is Charles Schulz of Peanuts. The others are probably very famous cartoonists that I can’t place.


  10. Richard says:

    I favour the double homophone – ROAD/ROWED/RODE

  11. bracoman says:

    Thanks for the clear blog

    Re 28ac – TESTER – in the old days roofs were thatched and during the night beasties etc would fall from the roof on to the bed below as there was no ceiling as such. A cover over the bed kept the occupants free of such intrusions.

    Once ceilings became established, the tester became redundant.

  12. scchua says:

    Thanks for all your comments.  

    Hi grandpuzzler. As you say, the pictures under 2D ANIMATION are drawers of famous cartoons (some of my favourites past and present). In all but 2 (maybe 3), there are tell-tale objects in the pictures (selected for that purpose) serving as clues to what they drew.

    Al Capp – Li’l Abner
    Jim Davis – Garfield (a bit of the orange Garfield on the backdrop)
    Matt Groening – The Simpsons
    Herge – Tintin
    Leonardo da Vinci – The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist, and other works, obviously not the same genre of cartoons as the rest here
    Scott Adams – Dilbert
    Charles Schulz – Peanuts

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